Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases are sending a spate of schools virtual.
In a late afternoon press release, Greenwood County School District 50 announced that Friday will be a virtual learning day.
“We have had a good start since our students returned to school this week thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff,” Superintendent Steve Glenn said in the release. “We have continued to monitor student and staff absences since we returned from our Winter Break. As our number of absences have begun to increase among our staff, we feel it is in the best interest of our schools to have a virtual learning day on Friday. With the MLK Holiday on Monday, January 17th, this will provide a prolonged break for some of our students and staff to return to school healthy next week.”
No students or staff will report to school Friday. Assignments will be posted to Seesaw or Google Classroom for students in grades one-12, the release said. Students in K4 and K5 will complete paper packets of independent work.
Across the lake, Laurens County School District 55 announced Wednesday morning that six of its schools will move to remote learning until after Martin Luther King Day: Ford Elementary, Laurens Elementary, Laurens Middle, Gray Court-Owings, Hickory Tavern and the high school.
In a press release, the district said those “schools have reached a critical point where we cannot provide quality and safe educational experiences due to the high percentage of staff member absences required to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.”
This comes a day after Laurens County District 56 in Clinton announced Eastside Elementary School would take a similar pause on in-person learning because nearly 40% of school employees were out, either because they had COVID or were in contact with someone who was infected.
Thornwell Charter School in Clinton is also taking a hiatus from the classroom, announcing Tuesday it would use elearning for the remainder of the week. Eastside and Thornwell plan for a return to classrooms Tuesday.
New cases in the past two weeks included nearly 2.5% of Laurens County residents, according to data from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. In Greenwood County, that rate is 3.3%.
A number of schools across the state are taking similar precautions as South Carolina sees its highest number of COVID-19 cases yet, more than doubling past daily new case averages.